‘If we fail, they’ll fire us’: Hackney workers in Picturehouse protest

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Protesters outside Hackney Picturehouse last weekend (Susannah Keogh/Hackney Post)

Cinema workers picketed the Hackney Picturehouse last weekend as part of an escalating dispute over pay and working conditions.

 

The cinema remained open as dozens of Hackney residents joined protesters from the BECTU union on Sunday, encouraging customers to not cross the picket line.

Staff at the Picturehouse Cinemas chain are fighting for the London Living Wage and for rights including sick pay for all and Union recognition.

The strike is timed to coincide with the run of the British Film Festival, which lasts for nine days until 15 October.

Lawyers representing Picturehouse, which is owned by national giant Cineworld, told The Guardian: “Any employee taking part in those strikes is likely to be dismissed.”

One Hackney Picturehouse employee, who did not want to be named, spent the weekend protesting outside the cinema and described their working conditions as “tense” because of the dispute.

“Head office is putting a lot of pressure on the managers to stamp out the strike action. We always have to be on our guard because if we fail at all, they’ll use that reason to fire us.”

Ben Alden-Falconer, a representative of the Hackney South & Shoreditch Labour Party commented: “Lots of people have been coming out of the cinema, seen us on the picket line and said ‘if you’d been here earlier in the day, we wouldn’t have gone in.’”